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New guidance has been given on the approach to be adopted by magistrates in...
New guidance has been given on the approach to be adopted by magistrates in

prosecutions over breaches of the 1994 Waste Management Licensing


The high court has allowed an appeal by the Environment Agency against

dismissal by magistrates of a prosecution over the deposit of waste on land

at Hartlepool which is ear-marked for use as a football pitch and car park.

The land-owners also hire out skips for domestic and business purposes and

dispose of the contents of those skips. It was alleged that waste they

deposited on the site contained biodegradable material which did not

correspond with exemptions provided for in accordance with the company's

entry in the Public Register of Exempt Activities under p13 of Sch 3 to the

1994 Regulations and was not an exempt activity within p19 of Sch 3.

However, when the company was prosecuted for knowingly causing controlled

waste to be deposited on the site the magistrates dismissed the case on the

basis that the amount of waste involved in the charges was only a tiny

fraction compared with the total tonnage of acceptable material deposited on the site.

They took the view that in their totality the amounts involved were within a 5% working tolerance which the company had been led to believe was

acceptable and fell to be exempt under the regulations.

Now though the court has ruled that the magistrates were wrong. Mr justice

Newman in allowing the Environment Agency's appeal said that where charges

were laid in connection with specific deposits said to have taken place - as in this case - each and every deposit fell under scrutiny.

This meant that the volumetric proportion between the deposit which was the

subject of charges and the eventual mounds of material to which the deposit

was added was completely irrelevant.

It would not, for example, be right to regard a skip containing nothing

other than biodegradable material as exempt simply because the contents of

that skip was going to be deposited upon a large volume of inert material

which contained no other biodegradable material.


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